Free to Be ... Innovative

Susan Hall
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Five Innovations that Could Change the Way We Live, Work and Play

A Los Angeles Times piece points to a generational difference between the crazy-rich tech entreprenueurs of today and those of the dot-com era. It paints a picture of young startup founders living frugally, more interested in investing in social causes and other startups. It's a far different scene than that of Larry Ellison and Paul Allen.


The story notes that tech titans score points by seeming to live more like the rest of us, especially during hard times, but it says the difference is real. They're more interested in what they can build, rather than what they can buy.


It quotes Microsoft researcher Alice Marwick, who wrote a doctoral dissertation on the subject, saying:

This is not a community that values good looks, visible wealth or having a hot body. Those are not the ways that they distinguish high status from low status. Technology millionaires don't hobnob with celebrities or buy a fancy car. They travel to Thailand or they fund an incubator. These things are just as expensive, but that's the classic hacker ethos that prizes the mind, not materials.

And it's typically a male ethos, the story points out - not concerned with fashion or decorating an expensive home.


It quotes Drew Houston, the 28-year-old co-founder of photo- and document-sharing site Dropbox, saying:

You do not need to have an Aston Martin in the driveway. It's more important to have the freedom and the independence to build something for a huge audience.

The story notes some particular exceptions, but calls them that. Having lived through the dot-com bust in Seattle, where companies couldn't give away all the expensive office furniture they had bought, it seems these startup execs are managing their companies and their lives on a much more even keel. Perhaps the dot-com bust was recent enough to have taught some important lessons.

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